Medalist rolls Pressel squeaks by

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USGAWEST HARTFORD, Conn. ' Stroke-play medalist Lisa McCloskey easily advanced in Wednesdays first round of match play at the 2008 U.S. Girls Junior Championship at Hartford Golf Club.
 
On a weather-plagued day that saw three delays totaling five hours and 12 minutes, McCloskey got off to a quick start against Christine Song by winning the first three holes. Song cut the deficit to 1 down with pars on the fourth and fifth holes, but McCloskey came back to birdie the ninth, 10th and 12th holes to earn a 5-and-3 victory shortly before play was suspended for a third time.
 
I was lucky enough to have a lead before those two big rain delays, said McCloskey, who is playing in her fourth Girls Junior. Its hard because you go out there and youre ready to play and it starts raining really hard. Its tough, but most people are used to it.
 
For McCloskey, who admitted shes more comfortable in a stroke-play format, getting through the first match was a relief.
 
It feels good, although there are many matches left, she said. But you have to win the first one to keep on going, so it feels good.
 
Also finishing just before the third weather delay was 2006 U.S. Womens Amateur champion Kimberly Kim, who recorded three consecutive birdies starting at the par-5 ninth to take control against Stacy Kim en route to a 5-and-4 victory.
 
Kimberly Kim, who is trying to become the seventh golfer in USGA history to claim both the Womens Amateur and Girls Junior titles, said she wasnt bothered by the dreary weather.
 
I like the rain, she said. Its better than the heat. I wanted it to rain all day, but I didnt want delays.
 
Defending champion Kristen Park needed extra holes to outlast Veronica Valerio. Park won No. 15 with a birdie and remained 1 up until the par-4 18th, when she missed a 6-foot par putt and Valerio converted hers from 2 feet.
 
I think I was just too aggressive on that, said Park. Its a tough green and I left it on the wrong side.
 
Her chance for redemption came on the first extra hole. After Valerio made her 10-footer for bogey, Park converted her 6-footer for par and the win.
 
I didnt think of that putt as a putt to win, said Park, who is trying to become the first repeat champion since Hollis Stacy won three consecutive Girls Juniors from 1969-71. It was just another putt.
 
Also needing extra holes to advance was 2006 Girls Junior champion Jenny Shin. She made a 21-footer for birdie on the 20th hole to oust 13-year-old Esther Lee.
 
Madison Pressel advanced to the second round for the first time in three Girls Junior appearances but it wasnt easy. Pressel, the younger sister of 2005 U.S. Womens Amateur winner Morgan Pressel, was the equivalent of seven over par in her match against Anna Jang but still managed to earn a 1-up victory.
 
I didnt play my best, but it starts all over tomorrow, said Pressel. [Match play] is a great game.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - U.S. Girls' Junior Amateur